ASLA Oregon LANDbytes MAY 2012 Feature:
Islands in the Stream
By Rebecca Wahlstrom
Ross, Hardtack, Toe, and East Island; these are names and places that Friends of Ross Island would like to bring to everyone’s attention. Although the four islands each has its own name, most people call this grouping located just south of downtown Portland, Ross Island. For over 75 years, the island’s raw aggregate was mined for use in concrete mixes; so as Portland’s skyline grew, the islands shrank. Although mining of the islands has ceased, one can still see barges of sand and gravel traveling up and down the Willamette River. That material is now mined from areas along the Columbia River and barged upstream for processing on the island.
In 2007, the owner of Ross Island Sand and Gravel, Dr. Robert Pamplin, donated 45-acres of Ross Island to the City of Portland, along with a generous check for invasive species removal. Mike Houck, Christina Frank, Melissa Medeiros, Bob Sallinger, Mike Faha, Travis Williams, and Friends of Ross Island invite the region to think BIG when it comes to figuring out what should happen with this gift of land.
Landscape architects are well suited to play a major role in the decision making process, as braiding together disparate user groups into a beautiful solution is what we do best. The islands sit at a crossroad of many interests; birders, boaters, conservationists, and potential picnickers all want this to be their ideal island. Landscape architects frequently deal with the delicate balance of blending human use and ecological health. While we strategize and scheme, the Vision Plan reminds readers that it’s not just about what we can get from the islands, but what we can do to restore this area that we have altered so greatly over the years. Check out the following link to the Ross Island Vision Plan and see what you think, an outline for progress has been formulated. What will be the result?